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Tessa Payne @ Now and Again

June 9, 2013

now and then 018

Since we now have to pay tax on extra bedrooms, here’s a worthwhile bit of DIY. Why not transform your spare room into a gallery? Even if there’s no guarantee it will pay out.

Requirements include lights and paint, both white, plus a tonne of hard work. But at least now the gallerist (Daniella Norton) can sit back and welcome people to a sterile yet domestic space.

The white paint, however, looks blue as you walk into the six work solo show by Tessa Payne. The painter has said her pallette is inspired by the sky, and it bleeds into the surrounding space.

Payne appears to paint faces. Her subjects, if they so be, are distilled from photographs and pushed as far from reality as you can get. Perhaps it is a weakness to see, eyes, mouths.

Or perhaps it is a real 21st century malaise, now that we live alongside emoticons, and enthusiastic photographers prowl the wider world looking for faces in things.

It is safer to get back to the colours. The work created to sit above a radiator is perhaps the warmest, with belts of gentle pink which ripple across the surface like isotherms.

The piece opposite (pictured), for all the world as grey as a cold spring day in London, also has unexpected hints of purple. Payne uses colours expressively, but also minimally.

You might say this was a portrait of an elephant, but the joke would probably be on you. Painting may be a wilfully dumb medium at times, but it is rarely as childlike as it appears.

The show title, Maps, might provide a clue, suggesting an urban terrain. But then again faces can also be mapped, by machines, for security or so-called security purposes.

But Payne’s faces, with their flyaway eyebrows and tick box eyes would surely pull up an error message. They function like masks to conceal the sitter’s true identity.

House guests with masks; sounds like a great party. It is certainly a good way to kick off Brighton’s newest gallery, Now and Again, 17B Beaconsfield Villas.

The show is open next Saturday afternoon. So check it out if you’re in town.

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